Disney's Animal Kingdom ditching Nemo musical for "reimagined" show

Posted Tuesday, September 14, 2021 11:03 AM | Contributed by Jeff

From the official Disney Parks Blog:

“Finding Nemo — The Musical” has been delighting our guests since 2007, and I’m excited to tell you a reimagined show, based on the same beloved characters, will debut in 2022.

Although our Disney Live Entertainment team is still in the early stages of development for the show, the musical retelling of this underwater tale of family, friendship and kindness will feature new story material, as well as fan favorite songs such as “In the Big Blue World” and “Go with the Flow.”

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Tuesday, September 14, 2021 11:07 AM
Jeff's avatar

I translate this to say, "We're gonna have another cheap and lame jukebox show with no story." That's unfortunate, because this was the only legitimate live musical at the parks. It was really good, had all the feels even seeing it multiple times. Music was written by Team Lopez, of Frozen fame (Robert also wrote for Book of Mormon).


Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Silly Nonsense

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Tuesday, September 14, 2021 11:52 AM

I'll try to hold judgement until the new one debuts, but....gosh this show was good! I'll miss it.


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Tuesday, September 14, 2021 11:59 AM
ApolloAndy's avatar

I only saw it once and I'm not a huge fan of musical theater, so I was kind of "meh" on the original. I certainly wouldn't say that any of the songs were "fan favorites" to me. Maybe if I had seen it in a different context instead of trying to cram it between laps on Everest and rushing to DHS, I might have viewed it differently.


Hobbes: "What's the point of attaching a number to everything you do?"
Calvin: "If your numbers go up, it means you're having more fun."

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Tuesday, September 14, 2021 1:07 PM

...and that might be why it is being redone. If memory serves, the runtime is pushing north of 40 minutes. Add in the time to be seated and leave the theater, and it is easily an hour commitment or more. There are very few other theme park productions that require that time investment. Maybe Dreamland Drive-In at Dollywood? There aren't any others at WDW that I can think of. Even some of the big Disneyland productions in the Fantasyland Theater were maybe 25-30 minutes.

So, if you are doing a "theme park tempo" day, Nemo is an awkward fit. I liked it both because I *am* a musical theater fan, plus the themes of the show resonate with me personally in ways they might not with others. But if you don't have a hook to the material, the form, or both, it may seem like overkill.

Edited to add: I found a Times Guide for Dollywood. Dreamland's run time is *55* minutes. But, Dollywood is also a "show park" and lots of people are not doing a tempo day there.

Last edited by Brian Noble, Tuesday, September 14, 2021 1:11 PM
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Tuesday, September 14, 2021 1:30 PM
Jeff's avatar

In practice it was about 35 minutes, but I always though it was a glorious air conditioned reprieve that was a good length. Even with a kid with ADHD, it really worked for us. The un-neutered Festival of The Lion King was 30 minutes (a jukebox show). Flights of Wonder is 30 minutes. Kilimanjaro Safari is at least a 40 minute affair with queue time. I don't think length is the issue.

Let's be honest... Disney is probably not bringing back the show because it's expensive to stage a big union show like this that runs 40 times a week. It ran a very long time and most people raved about it. Their post-pandemic spending seems to focus on capital improvement and back away from operating expense (shows, parades, music).


Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Silly Nonsense

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Tuesday, September 14, 2021 2:14 PM

With announcements like this, I do understand why some of the Passholes are irritated by the price increases.

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Tuesday, September 14, 2021 2:20 PM

Jeff said:

Let's be honest... Disney is probably not bringing back the show because it's expensive to stage a big union show like this that runs 40 times a week. It ran a very long time and most people raved about it. Their post-pandemic spending seems to focus on capital improvement and back away from operating expense (shows, parades, music).

Quoted for truth.


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Tuesday, September 14, 2021 2:22 PM

Love this show and agree it is one of the premier attractions in any of the Florida parks. Not sure there is much I would do with it but I could certainly see them taking the "Frozen Sing-Along" approach to this. That actually isn't a bad show...but it is a far cry from Nemo.

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Tuesday, September 14, 2021 3:37 PM

I think Frozen Live at DCA checks in at just under an hour. As many times as I've been to AK, I've never seen Nemo and I've only watched Festival of the Lion King once. I'm not much of a shows guy and neither is my wife. I've also never done a full bore, open-to-close day at AK like I've done with the other parks or at least not since Nemo debuted. It's not that I've purposely avoided it. I just never felt compelled to squeeze it into the schedule.


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Tuesday, September 14, 2021 3:57 PM

This hurts me a little because Nemo was one of my favorites. We always went and it was usually at my insistence. Historically, people we traveled with would’ve happily skipped it, but they were pleasantly surprised at the production and always thanked me for setting it up.
It’s the old saws like Lion King that are skips for me- Nemo is unique and surprising.

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Tuesday, September 14, 2021 3:59 PM
Jeff's avatar

There's also a spectrum of effort for live theater across the different business segments. The Broadway/touring companies are big expensive shows that sell a ton of tickets. I wouldn't put a longer Lion King show around the core story in the theme parks. See it in New York or your regional theater. The cruise ships also have signature shows that are 45-60 minutes, and they're pretty good. Right now, they're Tangled, Beauty & The Beast, Frozen and Aladdin (not yet sure what they're doing to do for the Disney Wish). The last two have touring shows that are huge in comparison (Frozen in particular is 10x as good as the film).

Live theater is generally not inexpensive to see. This to me, in part, is an accessibility issue.


Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Silly Nonsense

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Tuesday, September 14, 2021 6:24 PM

I agree, Nemo was one of the better live shows. Could this decision be in part due to a labor shortage? Is Live-E affected by the work shortage like everything else? I really don't know.

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Tuesday, September 14, 2021 6:31 PM
Jeff's avatar

My understanding is yes, but that's half of the equation. The show cost millions to initially create, so that's a sunk cost, but maintaining it and casting it wasn't cheap either. 40 shows a week with Equity actors and stage managers means your cast is many times redundant. I knew of three women for sure playing Nemo.


Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Silly Nonsense

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Tuesday, September 14, 2021 9:35 PM

Almost all the theme parks have cut their live entertainment this year. Not because of covid precautions, as most parks are a maskless, non-distancing free for all. It’s an easy way fir them to cut costs in the short run, and lose more non-riders in the long run.

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Tuesday, September 14, 2021 9:46 PM
99er's avatar

There isn't a shortage of labor for stagehands at Disney, rather Disney is choosing to keep them displaced/laid off while shows continue to sit dark for a variety of reasons, one of which Jeff hit on the head.


-Chris

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Tuesday, September 14, 2021 10:33 PM

ApolloAndy said:

I only saw it once and I'm not a huge fan of musical theater, so I was kind of "meh" on the original. I certainly wouldn't say that any of the songs were "fan favorites" to me. Maybe if I had seen it in a different context instead of trying to cram it between laps on Everest and rushing to DHS, I might have viewed it differently.

I'm in the same boat. It felt like a well done puppet show but not something I was interested in seeing for a second time. Then again I'm also not a fan of the movie or the ride at Epcot.

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Tuesday, September 14, 2021 10:38 PM
Jeff's avatar

The Lopez's are genius. They could write a musical about dog **** and it would be good. They recently did the songs and "commercials" in WandaVision, and they were brilliant.


Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Silly Nonsense

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Wednesday, September 15, 2021 2:59 PM

Jeff said:

II don't think length is the issue.


that's what...

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Wednesday, September 15, 2021 2:59 PM

Jeff said:

The Lopez's are genius. They could write a musical about dog **** and it would be good. They recently did the songs and "commercials" in WandaVision, and they were brilliant.


There's a reason that Robert is a DOUBLE EGOT winner

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